Bronfman Plays Brahms

NEWARK—International piano virtuoso Yefim Bronfman returns to New Jersey Symphony Orchestra stages from Nov. 5–7, when he will perform Brahms’ First Piano Concerto with the Orchestra, under the baton of Music Director Jacques Lacombe.

Bronfman is no stranger to NJSO audiences; he last appeared with the Orchestra in 2008, when he played Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 to rave reviews. That same year, the pianist appeared on stage with Lacombe, performing Brahms’ Second Piano Concerto with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.


That history between soloist and conductor made Lacombe eager to bring Bronfman back to New Jersey audiences. And the NJSO Music Director has seen firsthand how the pianist interprets Brahms.

“[Bronfman] has so much depth to his playing; he has a special personal sound on the piano—such a wonderful German sound,” Lacombe says of the pianist. “His interpretations are very deep, honest and inspiring.”

Performances take place on Friday, Nov. 5 (8 p.m.), at the Richardson Auditorium in Princeton and on Saturday, Nov. 6 (8 p.m.), and Sunday, Nov. 7 (3 p.m.), at New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. Classical Conversations, which are free to ticketholders, begin one hour before each performance.

The program opens with two little-known gems, each written when its composer was 21 years old. The NJSO performs an orchestral arrangement of George Gershwin’s Lullaby, the only string quartet the composer ever wrote. The piece is a buoyant one-movement reflection that includes shades of Gershwin’s blues style. Kurt Weill constructed his First Symphony, “Berliner,” out of incidental music he had begun to compose for a play that was never produced. The work combines chamber-music-like passages with sections for full orchestra.

“I wanted the first half of this program to be a bit curious to the audience,” Lacombe says. The program opens with a sweet lullaby by Gershwin, and then we move to a very early Weill work. To bring together two composers who were not well known for their serious music—Weill was known for his musicals, Gershwin for his songs—is exciting. Actually, there is a funny link between the two composers—Weill actually wrote songs with Ira Gershwin, George’s brother.”

Tickets range in price from $20 to $82 and are available for purchase online at or by phone at 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476).

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